What Are The Most Common Symptoms of an IBS Attack and How Can You Treat Them?


For the many of us that suffer from Irritable Bowel Syndrome, knowing the causes of attacks and how to treat or prevent them is extremely valuable knowledge. With no direct cure for this illness, usually making changes to our lifestyle and food choices are some of the ways in which we can actively manage it.

person suffering from ibs attack

In this article, we will be looking at what the common symptoms are of an IBS attack, what the four different types of this disorder are, how to treat an attack and how to prevent any in the future. 

Common Symptoms of An IBS Attack

Irritable Bowel Syndrome or IBS can affect people in completely different ways. Some people may find that they have extremely irregular bowel movements, whereas others will feel they have too many. Whilst symptoms may vary, the common ground is that people who suffer with IBS will experience stomach cramps and an uncomfortable pain after eating foods which are high on the FODMAP. Some of the most common symptoms that come with this illness are:

  • Abdominal Pain
  • Cramping in the stomach
  • Gas and bloating
  • Diarrhea
  • Constipation
IBS symptoms

What Are The Four Different Types of IBS?

Did you know that there are four different types of IBS? For the many people that suffer from this disorder, understanding what type of Irritable Bowel Syndrome they have is an important step in the diagnosis process. 

The three key types of IBS describe the symptoms which a person may feel when having an attack. The first type is IBS-C, which stands for Irritable Bowel Syndrome with constipation. People with IBS-C typically feel abdominal pain, bloating, difficulty moving their bowels and infrequent bowel movements. 

There is also IBS-D, which is Irritable Bowel Syndrome with Diarrhea. Similar symptoms occur, such as stomach cramps or pain, having loose stools or urgently needing to go to the bathroom. The third type, IBS-M stands for Irritable Bowel Syndrome with mixed symptoms, which can have a mixture of both constipation and diarrhea. IBS-M can also sometimes be referred to as IBS-A by medical professionals, the A standing for alternate, implying that these symptoms alternate between one another. 

The fourth type of IBS is IBS-U, which is a subtype. The symptoms of these attacks can vary but individuals suffering with this type of IBS will still have the common symptoms when it comes to their upset digestive system. 

How To Treat An IBS Attack

Currently, there is no direct cure of IBS and the exact causes are unknown. What we do know is that some food can trigger an attack and it’s important to figure out what those are. Avoiding any food triggers you may think you have is the first step to managing this disorder. You can do this by beginning an elimination diet, where you stop eating any foods you feel may be causing flare ups and then slowly reintroducing them back in after a period of time. This should help you figure out which foods are causing these attacks. 

Whilst doing this diet, you should stay away from any foods which are high on the FODMAP chart. The term FODMAP refers to a diet which is low in these carbohydrate compounds. 

Low Fodmap Diet
Low FODMAP Tikka Masala curry

Ways To Prevent an IBS Attack

First thing to consider when it comes to preventing your IBS attacks is the amount of fiber you’re intaking. Depending on what type of IBS you have, the amount of fiber you are eating on a daily basis could worsen your condition. For example, if you have IBS-D, you could be only adding to the amount of symptoms you are getting by consuming fiber rich foods such as fruits, vegetables, beans, legumes, nuts, seeds, and whole grains. Consider swapping out some of these foods for lighter alternatives. Whereas if you suffer from IBS-C, then you will need more fibre to assist you with your regular bowel movements. It’s important to speak to your doctor and get a diagnosis to fully understand what type of IBS you have. This can really help you research properly into effective ways to prevent an IBS attack from happening in the future. 

On the topic of food, try and eat foods which are low on the FODMAP. Here at Slightly Different Foods, we specialise in cooking sauces, salad dressings, condiments or general table sauces, which are all IBS-friendly and aim to give your meal that extra pizazz it’s been looking for. On our website, you will find a range of IBS friendly recipes, which can help you in your journey to understanding how to prevent an IBS attack. 

Whilst consuming all of your IBS-friendly foods and recipes, it’s a good idea to keep some sort of food diary. This can help you understand which foods are having a reaction too and causing your gut to be in pain. This can also help you not overeat. Controlling your portions and understanding what your stomach needs better are all important steps to take to help prevent an IBS attack.

Finally, try and follow a healthy lifestyle. Remember to exercise as regularly as you can and get the full, recommended seven to eight hours of sleep a night. Forms of exercise can help you treat constipation, so it’s extremely important when suffering from cases of IBS-C as it also promotes healthier digestion. Over time, regular exercise can even improve your digestive tract. The more fit and in shape you are, the amount of blood diverted from your digestive system decreases because the need is less urgent. 

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